I am only 10 years old. You stand next to me and are so much larger than my small, girly self. Despite this, you level with me. You speak to me like I am older, and tougher. You think that I can be a doctor, a lawyer, or even the first woman president. You play doctor with me in the kitchen and teach me how to measure someone’s reflexes, even though you were never a doctor yourself. Instead, you were a novel persona -- a “put-myself-through-NYU” driven engineer, a second generation Italian, a loving husband, a devoted father and most importantly, my grandfather. You set aside time for me, your only granddaughter and nevertheless, grandchild, at the time. You make me feel important. You stand up for me, like when you personally called PBS on the phone, complaining that they aired an “Addam’s Family” commercial that scared me during my favorite cartoon. You were my biggest fan, and I hope you know that I was yours.
I am only 10 years old. I wondered where you had gone. As I wondered, aspects of you flooded my mind and I began to miss everything about you suddenly: your cologne, your deep voice, your sharp suits you wore when we went out to dinner. Didn’t you want to play doctor one more time? Or take another trip to Toys R’ Us with Grandma? You would always buy me whatever I wanted. I was your princess, your “principessa,” your best friend, your best Pastina taste tester and spaghetti eater. Your granddaughter.
I am only 10 years old, but I know what happened. Mommy walked down the driveway from your house to our neighboring house. Her face was strong, but at the slightest tremble her lips broke into sobs and words I won’t forget. Daddy held her close. Little Shawn was so young, but Mommy always says you were the first one to give him chocolate at one year old, much to Grandma’s loving, nutritional protest. I wondered why you left us, but I knew you were doing just fine up there in Heaven. Grandma was very sad. She showed me pictures of you when you were both young and when you were in the army. You were so brave. Now it’s my turn. I am 10 years old.